The ICC World Twenty20 final started going wrong for Sri Lanka when Nuwan Kulasekara failed to bowl a single yorker in the final over of West Indies' innings. Then Ravi Rampaul cleaned up Tillakaratne Dilshan with an absolute beauty in Sri Lanka's second over, Kumar Sangakkara played arguably the least elegant innings of his illustrious career, and Mahela Jayawardene - captain and national hero, yet to win a major final - perished to his beloved reverse sweep.
From there, it was a procession. Sri Lanka collapsed to 101 all out, giving the West Indies a win in the World T20 final by 36 runs.
How did that happen, then?
No 'Gaylestorm' this time
In the beginning, there was Chris Gayle's failure. Few would argue that Gayle is the world's best Twenty20 batsman. He has pulverised bowling attacks in the Indian Premier League, Australia's KFC Twenty20 Big Bash, the Bangladesh Premier League and even Zimbabwe's Stanbic Bank 20 Series. He has scored eight Twenty20 hundreds, easily a record, and averages close to 50 in a form of cricket not laden with big scores.
Gayle had been a key figure for West Indies on their road to the final, but first Angelo Mathews and then Ajantha Mendis had him totally pinned down. He missed a straight one from Mendis and suddenly WI's trump card was back on the sidelines - out leg before wicket before he could make a contribution. Sri Lanka celebrated his wicket with fervour, knowing how crucial it was.
Samuels steps up
What Sri Lanka didn't reckon on was Marlon Samuels continuing his good international form in such a dramatic fashion. From 32-2 after 10 overs - a paltry effort more befitting of a Test match - Samuels, supported ably by Dwayne Bravo, hauled West Indies up to a competitive total. When he fell for 78, having hammered six huge sixes, Samuels had scored 72.2% of West Indies' runs. The most remarkable thing about his innings was that he reserved his most devastating hitting for Lasith Malinga, traditionally Sri Lanka's best bowler in limited overs cricket and a perennial purple cap (for most wickets) contender in the Indian Premier League.
None of that mattered to Samuels, who carted Malinga for 39 runs off just 11 balls. Malinga finished with figures of four overs, no maidens, no wickets for 52 runs. Sri Lanka's biggest bowling star hadn't just been neutralised; he'd been taken apart.
The final over of West Indies' innings was crucial. Kulasekara, usually so good at bowling at the death, served up six length balls and half-volleys to Darren Sammy, WI's long-limbed, big-hitting captain. Sammy duly struck 15 runs, including two fours, to lift West Indies to 137/6. A poor total had become a competitive one, but they would need to get Sri Lanka's illustrious top three batsmen out quickly to have a chance.
A bad start
One over into Sri Lanka's innings, one of that formidable trio was gone - and in the most emphatic fashion. Ravi Rampaul, who has improved to such a degree that he is now West Indies' leading fast bowler, pitched a perfect delivery just short of a length in line with off stump. The ball straightened off the pitch, away from Tillakaratne Dilshan's meaty bat, and sent off stump tumbling. It was reminiscent of a similarly perfect ball Ben Hilfenhaus bowled to VVS Laxman last year. Rampaul ran towards the stunned home crowd, shushing them with a finger to his lips. Game on.
What followed was the only meaningful partnership of Sri Lanka's innings, between two great players (and great friends) Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara. Unfortunately, it was also the most awkward stand these two are ever likely to share. Sangakkara edged, blocked, was beaten and finally smacked one off the toe of the bat straight to deep mid-wicket. Jayawardene, meanwhile, was dropped twice and struggled to find gaps in the field; eventually, he fell to the outstanding young spin bowler Sunil Narine with 78 runs still needed.
That was more or less that, despite some late hitting from Kulasekara. The West Indies fielded magnificently - on several occasions, the bowler would sprint 30 metres off the pitch to collect a ball in space - and effected two run outs. This was not the same West Indies that threatened to become a full-time laughing stock as the 2000s waned. Under Darren Sammy, who wears his captain-least-likely hat with pride and calm, the West Indies are a well-balanced and genuinely unified team. Finally, 33 years after their last tournament win, it was the Caribbean's time to shine.
As more and more wickets fell, the attitude among the West Indians in the field shifted from focused intensity to infectious fun. When the ninth wicket fell, off the bowling of that man Marlon Samuels, his teammates ran to joyfully dust off his shirt as he stood with lofted arms. In the final moments before the match was won, wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin grinned broadly behind the stumps and continued his thickly accented chatter. Then Malinga hit Narine high in the air, Bravo pouched the catch and the Gangnam Style celebrations began.
West Indies 137/6 (Samuels 78, Sammy 26*, Ajantha Mendis 4/12) in 20 overs beat Sri Lanka 101 all out in 18.4 overs (Jayawardene 32, Kulasekara 26, Narine 3/9).
Player of the Match: Marlon Samuels.